Netflix parties, meme contests, rock paper scissor tournaments, painting with Bob Ross — these are just a few of the low-cost ways to keep your employees connected while working remotely.
During the social-distancing era, employee engagement presents its own set of unique challenges. However, employee engagement is crucial to maintaining a strong culture in a remote environment. We’ve received a lot of questions about ways to improve employee morale and boost culture while working remotely, here are some of our favorites.
1. Host a Rock, Paper, Scissors Tournament
A company-wide Rock, Paper, Scissors tournament is an easy way to connect employees who may be separated by department or office location. Additionally, it’s a fun and not-so serious competition that helps give your people a much needed mental break during these trying times.
Methods of playing Rock Paper Scissors
You can either have participants play over a video chat or have them play virtually at RPSgame.org.
Create a signup form and a bracket for each round
Create a method of signing up for the tournament (we recommend Google Forms). Additionally, create a bracket (we recommend using Print Your Bracket), you will have to update your bracket after each round.
Have winners self report their wins into a centralized location
Make sure you know who won and that winners know to self report their wins in a specific location (a dedicated Slack channel or email work best in our experience).
Livestream the final!
When you reach the final of your tournament, consider live streaming it for all employees to watch. This is a fun way to increase engagement and make the final feel like a high-stakes environment.
Drawasaurus is a free online game that allows you to play a drawing and guessing game (think Pictionary) with up to 20 simultaneous participants. Encourage teams to play Drawasaurus together to end their Fridays, or as a midweek pick-me-up.
Here’s how to get started:
- Go to https://www.drawasaurus.org/ and create a private room.
- Input your screen name, create a room, select “Private” from the dropdown menu under “Room Type” and set your password.
Use “Show custom settings” to customize rules
You can change the number of players, rounds, word selections, etc.
Share the link to the game with your team!
On the right hand side of your screen, you’ll see the following message: “Thanks for playing, please be polite to other players and avoid drawing words or letters! Share this link to invite people to your room.”
Wait for all participants to join, start the game, and have fun!
3. Have a Netflix Party
Whether team-wide or companywide, a Netflix party is a great way to foster engagement. Consider choosing movies or documentaries that are relevant to your business or the business world in general.
Here’s how to execute:
- Download Netflix Party and have your entire team do the same. You can find the Chrome plug-in here.
- Invite team members: After installing the plug-in and starting your selected content on Netflix, click on the red “NP” icon next to the address bar. Then, click “start party” to get the party started and share the party URL to allow your colleagues to join. They will have to click the “NP” icon after clicking on the party URL to join (all who wish to join must have Netflix Party installed).
Remember, show work-appropriate movies. We recommend the following on Netflix:
- The Pursuit of Happiness
- Space Jam
- Saving Mr. Banks
- Julie and Julia
Encourage a discussion afterwards!
We’ve all had those conversations when we’re fresh out of the movie theater, try to encourage your team to do this after your screening.
4. Wine and Paint Netflix Party
An interactive Wine and Paint night is a perfect way to encourage participation and give your people a fun activity to do together. Using the Netflix Party tool, stream Bob Ross: Beauty is Everywhere for a lovely wine and paint night!
Here’s how to execute:
- Download Netflix Party and have your entire team do the same (see directions above).
- Give people advance notice and a supplies list: We recommend these for supplies: Bob Ross Basic Paint Set. However, we realize these are not the most cost effective, so encourage employees to participate with any art supplies they might have in their house. Additionally, you can give employees the option to use drawing software like the ones featured in this list.
- Use Netflix Party to stream Bob Ross: Beauty is Everywhere to your entire team.
Have your team follow along the best they can. Remember: this is meant to help your people relax, not to turn them into Leonardo DaVinci.
Create a way for people to show off their unique paintings
Whether this is a follow up meeting or a Slack channel, give people the opportunity to show off their great and not-so-great works.
5. Make a Meme Contest
Memes are everywhere these days! They can provide a great way for your employees to bond remotely with some light-hearted comedy. Supply a picture, either related to your company or not, and challenge your colleagues to caption them.
Find a funny picture, company related or otherwise
Additionally, you can tell employees to appropriate existing memes to fit your company.
Tell your employees to create “work appropriate” memes
This one should be obvious, but we recommend making the suggestion anyway.
Create a central place where the memes will go
Whether it’s a Slack channel (recommended!), email thread, or some other centralized place, let your people submit their memes where the entire company can view and enjoy them.
6. Happy Hours
Virtual happy hours have become standard practice in this era. We’re recommending some best practices to make sure your entire team can participate, as opposed to your happy hour turning into a Zoom shouting match.
Here are some best practices:
- Consider sending out a discussion question or questions prior to your happy hour. This helps stimulate good conversation and avoids people feeling like they’re being “put on the spot”.
- Appoint a meeting leader to conduct the happy hour. The leader will conduct the meeting and make sure everyone’s answer to the discussion question is answered. Consider changing up who leads the meetings to keep things fresh.
- Keep things positive: It’s so easy to get caught up in doom and gloom in the current climate, but happy hour is not the place for that. Ask questions that lead away from any societal, political, or emotional issues. Example: If you could have dinner with 3 people dead or alive, who’s invited?
7. Meet the Pets
Many of us miss our pet-friendly offices, but we’re sure that your companions LOVE having you work at home. Consider hosting a pet-focused happy hour, giving people an opportunity to show off their pets and talk about their routines.
Make sure people know they can bring pets of all kinds
This event should not be limited to those with dogs and cats. Companions come in all species and sizes, so encourage those with more obscure pets (like reptiles, fish, etc.) to join in the meeting as well.
Ask good questions so all pets/owners can participate
For example, asking a group discussion question like “What’s the best trick your pet can do?” can make it so those without a dog are not included in the discussion. Consider asking group discussion questions like:
- What makes your pet happy?
- What’s your favorite activity to do with your pet?
- What do you feed your pet?
Consider turning this into a “Pets Club” for your employees
Pets are great sources of relief in hectic times, so consider hosting these meetings regularly. Additionally, you can make a Slack channel or discussion thread where coworkers can post pictures of their companions.
8. Virtual ‘Bring Your Kid to Work Day’
Every day can feel like “Bring Your Kid to Work Day” when you’re working from home. We highly recommend embracing this with a virtual version, allowing your people to bridge the gap between working and being at home. Here’s how to get started …
Activities, activities, activities
Ideally, all of our children would love to be on Zoom with us and quietly sit through company-wide meeting. However, we know that kids need to be entertained! Make “Virtual Bring Your Kid to Work Day” chock full of activities.
Online multiplayer games
.io games are simple and free online games that you can use as an activity. Many of these games allow you to “create a party” in order to play with friends. Poki is a great website for .io games. Additionally, you can play Drawasarus or organize a kids’ Rock, Paper, Scissors tournament.
Start a Netflix Party as detailed above and play a family-friendly movie. There’s a ton of awesome options available on Netflix that your group is bound to enjoy! Showing classic animated films that your coworkers grew up with is also an option.
Arts and crafts are commonplace in traditional “Bring Your Kid to Work Day,” and can be part of your virtual version. This is a great resource for some activities you can do at home. Make sure you give your coworkers a head’s up so that everyone can get adequate supplies.
9. Start a Book Club
A book club is an interest-based group that can easily increase engagement. People are reading a lot more during this time, and are often excited to share what they’ve been reading. Make this a bi-weekly or monthly activity.
Should I choose a book or let people choose their own?
Choosing a book can be great for cohesive discussions, but can be awful for engagement because it limits book club to employees who are able to acquire the book and read it before the next meeting. We recommend letting employees choose their own, this way they can speak to their own interests. Consider giving a new genre-prompt each month, for example May is autobiographies, June is fiction.
Have your people share more than a simple synopsis of the book. Encourage them to share their favorite passages, or how the book relates to their own lives. Give your people a platform to express what they’re passionate about.